BY KATIE BANDURSKI
The interview: used by journalists, college admission counselors and prospective employers alike, the process can simply be described as a method of extracting information.
Yet for some reason, being interviewed can evoke fear in the hearts of even the most courageous.
It starts out simply enough. Name, age, school etc., but then all of a sudden, the focus changes. Though the subject is still the same, the questions become more introspective and less mundane. The answers grow to lengths longer than mere words and phrases.
Evelyn Lauer, Digital/Social Journalism Instructor, advises her up-and-coming journalists to “try to find a nugget…find something and hone in on it.”
That’s when the fear is confirmed. That’s when the sweat sets in, because who knows what you’ll be asked.
It can be challenging to allow a stranger to dig into one’s life in search of the perfect story or angle, yet it’s often necessary for the truth to come out.
As a prospective journalist, I have interviewed countless people in a variety of positions.
This being said, I have added many tools to my belt via experience and the expertise of others, yet for some reason, I seriously lacked an empathetic understanding of what it’s like to be interviewed.
I can easily recall the number of times that I’ve been in the hot seat: once when I applied for a job, and another time this week as I helped the Digital/Social Journalism class polish their own interviewing skills.
This seems one-sided.
For someone who conducts interviews on a daily basis it seems logical that I too would be occasionally asked the tough questions.
Except, I’ve recently realized that asking the tough questions can be just as difficult as answering them.
No one necessarily wants to ask why the superintendent cut the fine arts program or why a convict committed a murder. In a perfect world, these questions wouldn’t need to be asked.
Yet as idealistic as perfect seems, it’s just not real.
Challenges aside, our work revolves around reliable and accurate sources from whom we can extract the truth.
Hailey Touhy, KEMPA SJW camper explains that she finds being interviewed easier than interviewing. “For me to not open up to an interviewer would just be pointless,” Touhy said. “Why would I try to shield myself for saying who I am?”
Unfortunately, not every source will be as open and willing to talk. So what do you do with a difficult source?
“Try to pry the information out of them more,” Tuohy suggests.
Glenn Kaboskey, fellow KEMPA SJW camper, agrees. “It’s not too hard if you just ask a question for an answer, it’s better to not get emotionally attached,” Kaboskey said.
We as journalists need to recognize the importance and the difficulties associated with the interview process. If a question is difficult to ask, it will most likely be difficult for the source to answer.
However, our job is to cultivate the truth, even if it means asking the questions no one else will.
At the end of the day, we must realize that interviews are a complex and challenging attempt to gain knowledge.
So next time you find yourself at an interview, regardless of whether you’re asking or answering the questions, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. You might be surprised at the outcome.
The authors of these news and announcements are KEMPA staff members. We appreciate you reading and engaging with our site.